Transgender Day of Remembrance Reflections
Transgender Day of Remembrance Is About More Than Statistics
Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). As a teacher and writer based in Ontario, Canada, I find it somewhat ironic that a resolution was recently passed by the Progressive Conservative party to debate the recognition of gender identity theory, and later stopped in its tracks by Premier Doug Ford nearly a year after making the commitment to recognize the Transgender Day of Remembrance provincewide.
That being said, this day is about remembrance. TDoR rituals will usually involve the recitation of the names of those lost due to transphobic violence between November 20 of the year prior to November 20 of the current year. There might also be a widespread distribution of information about the incredibly frightening risks that the transgender population faces simply for being who they are.
It doesn't even take much digging to get these numbers, and that's incredibly frightening. Think about it: we see qualifiers about someone's identity all the time, as though it somehow matters which race or gender each murder victim belongs to. Dead is dead, and it's horrifying that the trans population, in particular, faces the possibility of such violence daily.
Sure, living in certain countries more than others may increase the odds of being safe, but the point is, the transgender population in general faces violence on a scale that many of us could not really understand the scope of. It's as though there is a certain segment of global society hellbent on destroying something just because they don't understand it, and that's wrong.
“Transphobia is a mark against humanity, my humanity— our humanity”, said Susan Gapka, Chair of Egale Canada’s Trans Issues Committee. “On this day we pause and reflect for a moment. We come together to gather strength and when our friends support us they give us strength. I am a human being and I am simply seeking to lead a happy life, free from discrimination and violence.”
The Human Rights Campaign notes on its website that TDoR is meant to remember more than just transgender individuals. Its website states that the Transgender Day of Remembrance is for communities to "remember transgender people, gender-variant individuals, and those perceived to be transgender who have been murdered because of hate."
Indeed, in its report, A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence In America In 2018, the Human Rights Campaign notes that in America, at least 128 transgender people have been killed simply for being who they are since 2013. 75 percent of these individuals were minors. Of the 128 victims, 115 were identified as transgender women. 95 were African American and 14 were Latinx.
The numbers are terrifying. You're looking at 96 out of 128 victims who are kids, for starters. These are someone's sons or daughters, snuffed out of existence simply because they had the courage to live their lives as their authentic selves.
Can you imagine having to live in fear of someone discovering your truth and living scared simply because of that? Someone hating you only because you are being...well, you.
We're all human, and it does not matter whether you're a man or woman or identify as a teddy bear - you're worthy of respect and love as anyone else is on this planet. As Canadians, it would be incredibly easy for us to shrug and go, "Yeah, but those are American numbers. This is Canada - we like everyone, right?"
Not so fast.
A report, conducted jointly by Egale and University of Ontario Institute of Technology, interviewed a small sample of transgender individuals in order to try and solidify the scope of anti-trans violence in Canada. While the report authors acknowledge that the need for a larger-scale report is needed, they did note that one of the biggest blocks into anti-trans violence statistics in Canada is the fact that in Canada, "gender identity is not explicitly included as a protected ground within hate crime legislation, and so hate crimes against trans people are not routinely recorded as such by police ofﬁcers or reported by Statistics Canada."
That, of course, does not mean we are immune to such violence in Canada. The report is called, 'I Don't Know Where It Is Safe:' Trans Women's Experience Of Violence In Canada.
The very fact that someone would even say they don't know where it's safe suggests that we have a lot more work to do to ensure safety and equal rights for all.